December 10, 2014, Manchester, UK. Press Dispensary. In the Financial Times last month, Robert Hannigan, the new director of Britain's electronic spy agency, GCHQ, accused "large US tech companies”, such as Facebook, Twitter and WhatsApp, of being "the routes for the facilitation of crime and terrorism.”
And as Hannigan, who was director general of defence and intelligence at the Foreign Office before moving to GCHQ, argued in response to these threats that personal privacy has never been "an absolute right", he raised the hackles of civil liberties and privacy groups. Privacy International deputy director Eric King said: "It's disappointing to see GCHQ's new director refer to the internet - the greatest tool for innovation, access to education and communication humankind has ever known - as a command-and-control network for terrorists."
But William Abbott, chief investigator at Private Investigators Manchester, had his own warning for the ordinary users of such social media platforms: "As the security agencies and civil liberties groups try to balance the threat of terrorism against people's right to privacy, we all need to protect our own privacy. None of us should forget how easy it is for criminals to target any one of us through social media, and therefore how important it is for us all to keep our own information confidential."
He continued: "We all like to open up online, keep in touch, make new friends and contacts, but every piece of information we give out about ourselves makes life easier for criminals and fraudsters to target us. They have become very proficient at using basic personal information such as a name, telephone number and address to take advantage."
The most obvious threat is of a criminal posing as their victim, using that person's identity to obtain something fraudulently or commit another criminal act.
"Identity theft can be quite easy if you give away too much about yourself online," continued William Abbott. "And identity theft can lead to other stealing, for which the victim usually ends up paying."
The crime is not just restricted to stealing money or goods. "Financial fraud can involve large sums and become quite complex. And then there are other horrendous crimes that exploit identity theft, such as human trafficking. If your personal information gets into the wrong hands, it can be very serious."
Detectives at Private Investigators Manchester are experienced in handling cases where people may think they are victims of identity theft and online fraud. "If someone thinks they may have been a victim of identity theft or any kind of identity related crime, they should come forward. The sooner, the better.
"But prevention is better than cure. The less a person gives out about themselves in the first place, the better. And Private Investigators Manchester can help by advising anyone on protecting their own individual privacy.
"Meanwhile, the best general advice is: keep it confidential."
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For further information, please contact:
William Abbott, Private Investigators Manchester
Tel: 0161 363 0083
Published for Private Investigators Manchester by Press Dispensary